An Interview About Continuous Localization with Vistatec’s CSO, Unn Villius

Unn VilliusAs part of Lingoport and Vistatec’s webinar, A 360 Degree View of Continuous Localization, we interviewed Unn Villius, CSO of Vistatec, to get some quick insights into the state of agile localization as well as other related topics discussed during the webinar on May 16th, 2019.


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Lingoport: Since setting up US operations at Vistatec in 1998, what have been the most significant changes to the localization industry over the years?


Unn Villius: In the early days of localization, it was really something that Microsoft, Lotus, IBM and other big tech companies did.

They were big monolithic projects with a start and an end date. Things were sold on CDs in boxes with big printed manuals, and that was really the core of what we were doing, a lot of software. Software localization has always been challenging, and still is, but what we’re seeing today is a completely different landscape.

The idea of a project is not all that common anymore. For mature companies, localization is now just an ongoing and continuous process, consisting of small and quick turnaround jobs. Additionally, a lot of the content now goes well beyond the software product. We’re talking about marketing, PR, SEO with the global aspects of multilingual search engine optimization, E-Commerce, promotional social media, and more. So it’s a very very different landscape.


Lingport: What are a few things developers do wrong that make it difficult for localization teams to keep up with development?


Unn Villius: 1. Developers are not necessarily familiar with how other languages work so they will not take things into account. In English a singular word can be a verb or a noun, and unless you have context you will not know how it should be used. In other languages the verb version and the noun version would be two completely different words. For example, if I say “field”, that can mean “fielding” a question but it can also mean a physical “field” and those would not be the same words in French or German or Swedish or any other language.

2. Developers often don’t understand that a word needs context to be interpreted correctly. For example, in order to save time developers often start a sentence by saying something like “you need to…” but then they cut off the sentence and proceed with writing a bunch of things that people need to do. Unfortunately, chopping up a sentence like that will cause all sorts of problems in a localized language because depending on what the continuation of the sentence is, you will need to express them differently.

3. Lastly developers typically do not plan for allowing languages to expand. German, Spanish, Finnish, and other languages tend to be longer than English. Therefore, if you don’t provide enough real estate for language expansion, you are going to end up with very chopped up translations. This becomes especially problematic on mobile devices where real estate is very limited.


Lingoport: Are there any example companies you feel have mastered keeping both localization and development in sync?


Unn Villius: Microsoft has always been the trailblazer and other big players, such as Google, embraced the fact that they are global companies with global content, and that’s really where the change needs to come from. That’s where the climate is set so to speak, emphasizing the importance of global content to drive revenue, and if it comes from the top, it makes all the difference in the world.

Go-Pro is another great example. If you go back and look at their news, I think it was about a year ago, they evangelized, the C-suite bought into it, and they actually saw some amazing growth in Japan and some other markets. I’m not entirely up to date, but I do remember one press release where approx. 65% of their growth came from overseas markets. You can see the importance of being able to communicate.


Check out the webinar recording to learn how to achieve visibility between development and localization for faster, more accurate localization in alignment with your sprints.


  • Date: May 16, 2019
  • Time:¬†9AM Pacific, Noon Eastern, 18:00 CEST
  • Duration: 45 minutes, plus audience Q&A


View i18n Webinar Recording


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